I’m crouched over a blue plastic bin of spare parts: PVC elbows, steel nuts and bolts, and a large green and white pump made in Japan, meant for usage on a project about ten years ago. I’m doing my part at the day job, sifting through old material on the last day of the week-long annual physical inventory. It’s gray outside and I wrote an acceptable amount of prose earlier in the morning; I’m feeling at ease, as if it’s an hour away from quitting time on Friday. I sit up from my stool and turn down the volume on my iPod Touch; Kanye West makes my ears ring. I lean over and pull out my Motorola Droid to check the weather, Twitter and my email. And there I am, once again, holding a device in each hand amid the age of multipurpose gadgets. I say to myself with a whisper, as if I’m ready to release a secret into the world, “I want an iPhone.”Â
The next day, my fiancee and I browse the local mall, picking up various items for our honeymoon at the end of October. Whenever Verizon Wireless releases a new phone, I find myself at the kiosk in the mall, tinkering with the new gadget to see if, maybe, it’ll fit my needs. This trip is different. Carrying newly purchased luggage, I see the kiosk and the crowd meandering around it. I’m on a mission to understand my hesitancy over the years. I’m watching the Verizon employees, wearing, for some reason, matching lavender polo shirts, and the archetypical iPhone owner, the one that existed in my head for so long, begins to fade. We all know them: skinny-jean hipsters and hooded teenagers, little women with Ugg boots and pixie hair cuts, wannabe rappers with bent baseball caps and gaudy diamond earrings. My judgements of them, born out of something trite like a cell phone, is nothing more than a judgement of myself, as if the Android phone in my pocket makes me better, smarter or less susceptible to marketing trickery.
A few months ago, I rooted my Droid and felt superior to some unknown, nameless, nonexistent audience; my phone was mine, absent Draconian controls by a Cupertino-based overlord. Rooting my phone afforded me wifi-tethering, custom ROM swapping and processor overclocking: things that added a bit more depth to my gadget experience. And yet, some time later, after I spent two late-night hours at the computer, phone in hand, switching ROMs and reinstalling apps on three separate occasions, I had a revelation of sorts. I should’ve been writing, but I was here at my desk, trying to make my phone better. “This used to be fun,”Â I said to myself. “This used to be simple.”Â
Simplicity—in terms of writing, it means get to the point, to tell it straight and to be clear. So here I am, holding the new Samsung Fascinate in my hand. Its cartoony, iOS-like interface bothers me; the shape of the phone, similar to the iPhone 3GS in my opinion, appeals to me, its plastic build notwithstanding. But to get rid of the UI skin, I’d have to root the phone and slap a new launcher on top of it. I’d have to hack away to dispose of the default Microsoft Bing seach functionality—Microsoft’s search engine on a Google-powered phone. I look over to the gargantuanDroid X, ruined by Motorola’s own UI skin and its lockdown of the phone’s bootloader, rendering it near impossible to install a new ROM.
I don’t have time for this shit.
But the Fascinate comes with a Buy One, Get Any Phone Free deal—it’s been a personal mission of mine to get my fiancee away from Blackberry. So I ask an employee about the deal, thinking I’d stomach the Fascinate while my fiancee takes on the Droid X. As the middle-aged white woman, with wrinkly neck and fresh-pressed white shirt, click-clacks on the keyboard, I think to myself, “Here we go again.”Â From the corner of my eye, I see the AT&T store. Yet, I wait for the employee to finish; she looks up and says, “Your New Every Two upgrade is available in two weeks. You can’t use it now; you’d have to buy the phones at full price. And we would charge an additional $20.”Â
I can feel the sweat bubbling from my forehead. “Twenty bucks? For what? And why can’t I upgrade at the discounted price, at least?”Â
“I’m sorry, sir.”Â
“If I go online, I won’t get charged twenty bucks AND I can get the phones discounted.”Â
“That’s not correct, sir.”Â
I know I’m right. I’m a gadget freak; I know the ins and outs of my cell phone contract, I know the loopholes and I know what I can and can’t do. My fiancee grabs my arm as I turn away from the employee, then begin to turn back to curse her out. My fiancee knows me, knows my ins and outs, and knows when its time to pull me away. As we walk away, I drag my luggage and say to my fiancee, “I’m done.”Â
I’m done pretending to not want something. I’ve wanted the iPhone since it was released and, given I couldn’t afford one, I drummed up reasons for hating it. Indeed, it is not perfect, but I had enough of making a Blackberry or Android into an iPhone. Later that night, I work out the details with my fiancee—she can have the Verizon account to maintain her number, as well as her sister’s on our family plan, and it’ll be under my name to use my day-job discount. With a call to Verizon, an $80 early termination fee and a trip to the AT&T store, things are simpler now. Just get to the point, do what you want and live with the results.